The Ghosts are Returning
Cabaret & Musical Theatre / Rhodes Theatre

The Ghosts Are Returning tells the story of seven “pygmy skeletons” a Swiss doctor found in 1952 in the Congolese province of Ituri (today Haut-Uele) and brought back to the University of Geneva for research purposes.


Unlike other African skeletons and skulls, thousands of which still remain in the archives of European museums, the names, dates, causes of death and the approximate origin of the seven skeletons are known. GROUP50:50 embarks on a search for their descendants - artists coming from Congo, Switzerland and Germany travel to the equatorial forest to the nomadic Mbuti people, who are threatened by illegal logging and are being driven out of the forests. 


Using song and dance alongside the Mbuti, they develop a ritual for the seven spirits – in the hopes they will find peace. 


Musically, the production moves between genres. It incorporates dirges from both classical music and traditional Congolese music. It includes the polyphonic songs of the Mbuti, who held their funerals with complex choral songs long before polyphonic requiems were composed in Europe. A musical-scenic funeral ceremony is created for the seven skeletons and their spirits, including a Mbuti choir which engages in conversations with the musicians and performers on stage via video. 

Production Credits

Direction: Christiana Tabaro, Eva-Maria Bertschy, Michael Disanka and Elia Rediger

Composition and musical direction: Kojack Kossakamwve and Elia Rediger

Text: Christiana Tabaro, Eva-Maria Bertschy, Michael Disanka, Patrick Mudekereza, Ruth Kemna and Elia Rediger

Dramaturgy and discourse: Eva-Maria Bertschy and Patrick Mudekereza

Stage design: Elia Rediger, Christiana Tabaro, Michael Disanka and Janine Werthmann

Video: Joseph Kasau, Elia Rediger and Moritz von Dungern

Sound: Philipp Ruoff

Technical Director: Sylvain Faye

Production management: Pamina Rottok and Véronique Poverello

Artistic director PODIUM Esslingen: Joosten Ellée

On stage: Ruth Kemna (viola and performance), Christiana Tabaro (vocals and performance), Huguette Tolinga (percussion), Franck Moka (electronics and performance), Merveil Mukadi (bass), Elia Rediger (vocals and performance)

About the Artists

The GROUP50:50 is an artist collective from Congo, Switzerland and Germany as well as a production structure based in Basel, Berlin and Lubumbashi, committed to the realization and production of transnational artistic cooperation projects.


GROUP50:50 tells stories about historical and current economic and political interrelations between their countries, demands the return of cultural heritage and reparations for colonial crimes and present-day human rights violations. The group addresses the history of globalization, the colonial rule over the African continent and neo-colonial practices of exploitation of humans and nature to extract raw materials.


The GROUP50:50 critically reflects on the forms of their collaboration, which are disturbed by historical economic inequalities, cultural misunderstandings and the fact that the means of production still come from Europe, as the budgets for culture in African countries are very limited.


PODIUM Esslingen was founded in 2009 as a small, alternative chamber music festival for young people and within a few years has developed into a versatile platform for innovation in the field of classical and contemporary music. In addition to the annual PODIUM Festival, numerous guest performances, educational formats, satellite events and digital projects take place within the framework of PODIUM Esslingen. All activities are sponsored by the non-profit PODIUM Musikstifung (music foundation) Esslingen.


Biographies of the Artistic Directors


Christiana Tabaro is an actor and director living and working in Kinshasa. She studied at the Institut National des Arts in Kinshasa and founded the Collectif d’Artd’Art with Michael Disanka. She has performed her solo “Parole de femme” (2013-2019) at more than twenty universities in three different regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Since 2016, she has been working with Michael Disanka on a trilogy that conjoins intimacy and history. The first part “Sept Movements Congo” was presented in late 2018 with the support of NTGent and Connexion KZW at the KVS in Brussels, the second part “Géométrie(s) devie(s)” – co-produced with studios kabako and supported by Kaserne Basel – was shown in Marseille at the Les rencontres à l’échelle festival in December 2021. She has been a member of GROUP50:50 since 2021.


Michael Disanka is an actor, director and author. After studying at the Institut National des Arts in Kinshasa, he founded the Collectif d’Artd’Art with Christiana Tabaro. In 2012, he met the Congolese playwright Dieudonné Niangouna and collaborated with him on theater productions that were presented at various festivals including Connexion Kin 2012-2013, Mantsina sur scène 2012 (Brazzaville), and Theaterformen 2013 (Hanover). For several years he has also been writing his own pieces, most notably in “Diseurs de textes”, a performance reading project. The pieces “31. May 2012” and “La Poupoupète” were directed by Dieudonné Niangouna in 2012. In 2021, he became a member of GROUP50:50.


Elia Rediger, born in Kinshasa/Democratic Republic of Congo in 1985, is a well-travelled Swiss artist, composer, playwright and singer. In addition to compositions for orchestra (“Oh Albert”, 2016, Basel), he was resident author at the Konzerttheater Bern (2016/2017), front man of the pop group The bianca Story and the big band orchestra Brigade Futur 3. “Herkules von Lubumbashi – ein Minenoratorium” was his second collaboration with the Congolese choreographer Dorine Mokha after “Oh Boyoma – 387 Strophen über eine vergessene Stadt” (387 stanzas about a forgotten city), KonzertTheaterBern 2017. In 2020, Mokha/Re-diger founded GROUP50:50 with the Congolese curator Patrick Mudekereza and the Swiss dramaturge Eva-Maria Bertschy. After Dorine Mokhas unexpected death, they decided to continue the GROUP50:50 mission and teamed up with Christiana Tabaro and Michael Disanka for a new production.


Eva-Maria Bertschy works as a freelance dramaturge, author and curator at the interface between theater and political activism in Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Italy and DR Congo. She is artistic director of Studio Rizoma, a production structure for transnational political and artistic projects in Palermo. With the Swiss director Milo Rau/International Institute of Political Murder, she created and realized numerous productions, international theater and documentary film projects, political interventions, congresses and other discursive formats. She also regularly collaborates with the Berlin-based director Ersan Mondtag. She founded GROUP50:50 with Elia Rediger, Dorine Mokha and Patrick Mudekereza. Her projects have received numerous awards, were invited to prestigious theater festivals such as the Berliner Theatertreffen, the Festival d’Avignon and the Kunstenfestivaldesarts and presented in over 20 countries.


Patrick Mudekereza is a writer and curator. He is the founder and artistic director of the Center d’art Waza, a unique independent arts center in Lubumbashi. He co-founded and directed the first three editions of Rencontres Picha, Biennale de Lubumbashi (2008-2015). He participated in the founding and was on the board of the International Biennial Association. He has curated exhibitions such as “Prise de Terre” (part of GEOgraphics, Bozar, 2010), “Close Openings/Vernissage Fugaces” (various locations in Lubumbashi, 2011), “Mining Lubum” (VANSA, Johannesburg, 2015), “Silimuka” (part of the project ChinAfrika under construction, Museum für Gegenwartskunst GfZK Leipzig, (2017), “Aire d’oiseaux imaginaires” (Congo Biennale in Kinshasa, 2019, and Bogardenkapel Brugge, 2019). The project and the accompanying publication “Revolution Room” (2013-2016) received the African Architecture Award in the category Critical Dialogue (Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town, 2017). In 2016, he received the Congolese National Award for Art and Culture and in 2017 he was awarded the Art Lettre et Sciences medal. He teaches at the Universities of Lubumbashi and Witwatersrand.


Joosten Ellée studied violin with Prof. Thomas Klug (HfK Bremen) and Prof. Petra Müllejans (HfMDK Frankfurt). He is co-founder, concert master and concert dramaturge of ensemble reflektor. Joosten’s musical field of activity ranges from dealing with historical performance practices of the early baroque to the realization of numerous world premieres and the composition of electronic music. With ensemble reflektor he won the Max-Brauer-Prize of the Toepfer Foundation in 2019 and the NORDMETALLEnsemble Prize in 2020. He has been artistic director at PODIUM Esslingen since summer of 2021.


Christian Kossakamvwe Mpongo aka Kojack hasworked on numerous projects with a wide variety of artists, be it for album recordings or concerts – such as with Amine AUB (2013) – or as musical director with Papa Wemba for “La passion du maître” (2015). Kojack has played in various bands including Kwata Vibra (1998), Wenge Musica Maison Mère (2000-2003) and has been a part of several major musical projects such as “Losangania Project” (2009), the show “Basali ya buzoba” (2010), “Washibas chantent Michael Jackson” (2011) and has toured with Elie Kamano and Maryse Ngalula for “Visas pour la création” (2013) and “Franco na biso” (2014). Since 2018, he has been touring the world with “Requiem Pour L.” with musicians from all five continents under the direction of Fabrizio Cassol and Alain Platel. In 2019 and 2020 he was part of the “Herkules von Lubumbashi – Ein Minenoratorium” ensemble.

  • Venue: Rhodes Theatre
  • Location: Rhodes Theatre
  • Ticket price: ZAR 120.00
  • Programme type: Curated Programme
  • Genre: Cabaret & Musical Theatre
  • Duration: 2 h 10 mins
  • Ages: 12+
Rhodes Theatre
June 28, 2024 20:00 - 22:10
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June 29, 2024 14:00 - 16:10